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Why you shouldn't trust the safety of your electrical devices

March 16, 2018

In a pokey evidence room at the offices of Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade, you'll find a museum of deceptively dangerous electrical appliances.


Stacked in black evidence boxes and pushed into corners are singed versions of ordinary household items. There is a notable collection of oil heaters in varying scorched states – the chief suspects in a number of fires.

While we may enjoy a trusted relationship with our electrical gadgets and machines, the experience of fire investigators suggests we should not be so nonchalant about the dangers they pose.


In Melbourne last year there were more than 450 house fires caused by faulty electrical appliances, heaters, laptops and other portable devices, including mobile phones left charging and unattended.

Photos taken later by investigators tell a frightening story. There's a baked, black patch on a bed, with an unnatural, lava-like texture.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade fire investigator Steve Attard said the lithium-ion batteries of mobile phones had ignited in a number of cases.

Mr Attard said it was a common mistake to take a phone or laptop to bed and leave it charging while sleeping. Teenagers would even place their connected phone under their pillow so they could hear it vibrating during the night.

"There's a bit of an issue with people being too trusting and too reliant on their electrical devices," he said.




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